This real-world version of the Urahara Shikai Katana — from the Japanese anime series Bleach — serves as a physical reminder of a powerful magical weapon. Bleach tells a complex tale of supernatural war between enigmatic soul reapers like Urahara and evil “hollows” avoiding the fate of souls after death. Kisuke Urahara, a former captain of the Soul Reaper 12th Division, has now been exiled to the world of humans where he does a modest, nearly-honest business in supernatural equipment and information. The sword he carries is unique among the magical weapons of the story’s many warriors.
Forty-seven inches long with full tang construction and traditionally-styled handle of artificial rayskin and faux leather wrapping laid over hardwood, the katana comes with a matching scabbard and buckled belt. It’s visually correct but needs to be handled with care. As a replica, this sword is only satisfactory with an appearance similar to the magical weapon but with marginal finishing touches. The painted black portion of the sword could easily be damaged, and very little shaping has been done to the stout 440 high carbon stainless steel blade. Details match the shikai form of the weapon, not the form it takes for everyday wear.
Bleach weapons are unusual even for imaginary swords, since each has two current forms — one ordinary and one with magical powers. A shout by the sword’s owner transforms the blade, which in this case begins as a sword cane but becomes a powerful heavy katana. Capable of becoming a shield of blood as well as blasting enemies with rays of violent red light, the Urahara Sword is the only sword in the story which belongs to a man but possesses the spirit of a female warrior. Urahara refers to this magical sword, or zanpakuto, as Benihime or Red Princess and describes her as “not nice.” Even as a cane, this unusual sword has the ability to separate soul from body with a single strike.